GovChat tech to assist in mapping of ECD centres
Citizen engagement platform GovChat has partnered with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to assist in the location and registration of early childhood development (ECD) centres across the country.
The partnership is in line with the Vangasali-Every Child Counts campaign, which is targeting unregistered ECD centres to assist them in meeting the minimum norms and standards for registration as stipulated in the Children’s Act.
ECD centres are crucial in many disadvantaged South African communities, as they help take care of the wellness, nutrition and education needs of young children.
However, a nation-wide audit on the nature and extent of ECD provisioning, services, resources and infrastructure across all nine provinces shows that a considerable number of centres are unregistered, according to the DSD.
Vangasali, which means “leave no child or ECD centre behind” in Xitsonga, seeks to change all that by encouraging members of the public to participate in finding ECD centres in their local communities.
Once a community member identifies a centre, they can send the word “ECD” to 082 046 8553 on WhatsApp, states the department.
“The name, details and geo-location of the centre will be entered into the GovChat database for mapping purposes. This will also assist in determining the coverage of ECD services, particularly in poor and vulnerable communities.
“The campaign will be rolled out nation-wide in three phases, namely find and count, categorise and intervention. The goal is to provide support packages to all identified ECD centres to progressively register and enhance the delivery of quality ECD services, including nutrition, health and safety of children.”
GovChat is the official communications platform for government. It is accessible via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SMS and USSD channels.
“While the Department of Social Development has some data regarding the scale of ECD provisioning in the country, the partnership with GovChat enables mostly unknown, conditionally registered sites, playgroups as well as some unregistered centres,” it says. “There are, however, tens of thousands of unregistered ECD services and non-centre-based ECD services, including mobile services that government does not have data on because they are unaware of where these centres operate from.
“All these services form an integral backbone of ECD service delivery in the country. With respect to unregistered ECD services, government recognises the role it needs to play in assisting these services to meet registration requirements stemming from the nature of ECD provisioning being that of a community-based-driven service and a public-private partnership.
“By using GovChat’s digital interface and data analytics, the platform will enable government’s work in providing access to quality ECD services and investing in young children.”